In the future, when we’re all living like the Jetsons and flying cars are the norm , it’s likely that medicine and nutrition will be highly personalized. (Hell, Forbes projects flying cars in the next 5 years[i] so maybe this isn’t in some far-off futurity!) I’ve been reading more and more about this concept: for example, creating personalized probiotic blends for people based upon their genetics, disease, current microbiome state, etc.
I spotted an interesting article[ii] yesterday that looked at individual response to eating bread. This was a randomized trial of 20 people: they all increased their bread consumption to about 25% of their total daily calories, some eating packaged white bread, some eating whole wheat sourdough. After 2 weeks, the groups were reversed. During the study, many health effects were measured including glucose levels, levels of the minerals calcium, iron and magnesium; fat and cholesterol; kidney and liver enzymes; markers for inflammation and tissue damage; the makeup of the participants’ microbiomes before, during and after.
Interesting, there was no clinical differences in any of the measured parameters. However, since it has already been established that people have different glycemic responses to the same food, the researchers decided to measure this as well. And what they found is that “…about half the people had a better response to the processed, white flour bread, and the other half had a better response to the whole wheat sourdough.”
The microbiomes of all the participants, no matter which bread they ate, remained very stable. What would have been really interesting – and I’m sure will be the subject of future work – is to look at the similarities and differences in the microbiomes of those with a larger glycemic response to whole wheat versus those who had the larger response to white bread.
As the authors’ conclude: “Understanding the interpersonal variation in the effect of bread, one of the most-consumed staple foods, would allow the personalization of bread-related nutritional recommendations and optimization of food choices worldwide.” [iii]
So yeah – maybe in 5 years time, I’ll be munching on my personalized-health sandwich while sitting in my self-driving flying car. Now that I think about it, George Jetson’s daughter was Judy…coincidence?
[ii] Korem, et. al. Bread Affects Clinical Parameters and Induces Gut Microbiome-Associated Personal Glycemic Responses. Cell Metabolism. 2017;25, 1243-1253.